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Modernist Architects Arthur Fehr and Charles Granger

It was as though both Arthur Fehr and Charles Granger were sent here in 1946 from the future on a time travel mission to make their impact on the industry of architecture and design! Although they were two separate men walking their path of education and experience in the same industry, it wasn’t until 1946 when they became partners and established Fehr & Granger (F&G) in Austin, Texas that they experienced great success.

Their designs would captivate many and move the industry into the era of mid-century modernism. Post-World War ll was a time for new economic growth and opportunities, which helped pave the way for modern (or more commonly known as modernist architecture). Modernist architecture followed the belief that “form should follow function.” This style of architecture also gave birth to new innovative construction and use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete as building materials of choice.

Fehr & Granger labeled themselves as Austin modernists, and rightfully so as they were instrumental in designing some of the most important buildings in and around Austin, staying with their progressive, modernist style. Some of their most notable accomplishments in both residential and commercial architecture include:

  • Sneed Residence in Austin (circa 1953)
  • O. Henry Junior High School Austin (1954)
  • Saint Stephen’s Chapel Austin (1955) 
  • Clifton Hall at Texas Lutheran College in Seguin (1956)
  • Robert Mueller Airport (1959)
  • Austin National Bank (1961)

Charles Granger died in a car accident in 1966, so Arthur Fehr held down the fort at F&G until his death in 1969.

The firm of F&G received many awards over the years for their designs, including two separate awards for their design of the Robert Mueller Airport, in 1959 and in 1961. 

Charles also built the Granger House and The Perch, a pair of historic homes in Austin, in 1951. Both homes were both recorded on the National Register of Historic Places. Not bad for a modernist. 

 

Sydney Harbor Cityscape

The Story Behind the Design of the Sydney Harbor Bridge

The Sydney Harbor Bridge is located in Sydney, Australia. On March 19, 2007, the bridge was added to the Australian National Heritage List, giving the bridge historical significance. The SHB opened and was ready for business on March 19, 1932. It is considered to be the world’s tallest steel arched bridge, erected at 440 feet tall and is one of Australia’s quintessential landmarks. 

The bridge was originally designed by Scottish-born architect Thomas S. Tait, who designed buildings around the world and was a big proponent of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles. He designed it along with Dorman Long & Company. Other architects who were in the running for designing this iconic bridge include:

Norman Selfe: Australian-born engineer, naval architect, and urban planner. Selfe had entered a cantilever bridge design, but due to a downfall in the economy, it didn’t make the cut.

Francis Ernest Stowe: English-born architect, engineer, and inventor. His idea of a three-way design was considered radical. There were other implications that made this design undesirable for that time in history. 

Peter Henderson: This Sydney engineer submitted one of the earliest known drawings of the bridge connecting Sydney with north and south. It was a simple, straight across type of design.

David B. Steinman & Holton D. Robinson: Both are American architects; they submitted a design that mixed elements of cantilever and suspension engineering. The panel of judges did not like the design; they said it ”would not have a pleasing outline.”

McClintic Marshall Products Company: This company in 1924 proposed a design that incorporated elements of a cantilever bridge, suspension bridge, and the arch bridge, but the judges said that it “wouldn’t harmonize with its surroundings.”

The purpose of a bridge is simple; it connects an island to the mainland. The bridge is able to bypass the greatest obstacle between that island and the mainland, which is a body of water. It does this by simply taking up residency as the upstairs; but for us mere mortals, it must be perfectly designed.

 

googie-architecure

No, Not Google, It Is Googie Architecture

You’ve seen this futuristic, nostalgic type of architecture which was originally conceived in the 1930’s and referred to as Streamline Moderne. Streamline Moderne was a type of international art deco which got its inspiration from aerodynamic as well as nautical influences. 

Once upon a time, this type of architecture graced our coffee shops, carwashes, and gas stations. It emphasized the promise of an exciting future and a taste of things to come. Unfortunately, this too came to an end as many buildings that were designed in this style have been demolished, and as an architectural style haven’t been taken seriously. Or, is that about to change?

This type of architecture went on to become very popular from the mid-late 1940s through the mid-1960s. Since our conception of the future wasn’t as advanced as actually going into the future, many of the influences were the cars, jets, and the existing science fiction of post-war America. Many who are familiar with the cartoon show “The Jetsons” have already seen a classic examples of Googie architecture. 

The term Googie was taken from a coffee shop by the same name, designed by architect John Lautner in 1949, located on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. 

Googie architecture style became part of America’s pop culture. It was exciting because it was what Americans saw as living in the future now. Alan Hess, an architect who has written extensively on mid-century architecture, has made reference that in many ways Googie architecture delivered the grand promises of modern architecture. He said, “They were populist, employed new materials, and captured their purpose, place, and culture as vividly as any great architectural style.” He is an advocate for twentieth-century architectural preservation.

Hess wrote defending the idea of a McDonald’s in Downey being a historic landmark:

“How? It’s a design that’s inseparable from its time, place and people. That’s what really good architecture is.” As a true advocate, Alan Hess has both foresight and hindsight. 

Check out some Googie architecture.

Credit: Blog images Architectural Digest

 

key west hemingway

Key West and the House Hemingway Wrote

Key West conjures up images of nautical adventures. When we think of Ernest Hemingway, our minds immediately are transported to the literary classics such as “The Old Man and the Sea” and “A Farewell to Arms” — a couple of his masterpieces. We rarely think of where he lived, or what kind of decor he fancied unless it is in relation to what he wrote. Yet, what he wrote was greatly influenced by his surroundings. For Hemingway, his surroundings were his muse. 

Originally built in 1851 by Asa Tift, who was a marine architect and salvage wrecker, the Hemingway House is a French Colonial-style estate located at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida, across the street from the Key West Lighthouse. The house was a gift from the uncle of his wife, Pauline. The house was what you would call a fixer-upper in today’s terms, but the Hemingways’ always saw “the pretty in it.”

The Hemingway home in Key West was where Hemingway wrote “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “The Happy Short Life of Francis Macomber,” “To Have and Have Not” and “Green Hills of Africa.” Both Hemingway and his wife lived here from 1931 to 1939.

All that time he was surrounded by 17th and 18th-century antiques, which he absolutely loved. Another great love of Hemingway were cats. When he lived in Key West in this very house, he had a six-toed cat named Snow White.

On November 24, 1968, the Hemingway House became a National Historic Landmark. Today, it is known as The Hemingway House and Museum, where many tours are given to the public. As a little piece of immortality, many of the descendants of Hemingway’s beloved cat Snow White reside at the Hemingway House and happily greet tourists. Can’t help wondering if Hemingway himself planned this ending all along.

 

Haas Lilienthal House San Francisco

San Francisco Haas-Lilienthal House Tells a True Story

The beautiful intact Victorian house that bears the name of the Haas-Lilienthal House in San Francisco is a protected historical site. Located on Franklin Street, the Haas-Lilienthal House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) which is dedicated to the preservation of anything, including structures and buildings that are worthy of historical significance. The Haas-Lilienthal House was originally built in 1886 and survived the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 with very little damage.

It was evident that the Haas-Lilienthal House had earned the right to be the storyteller and historian of this great era gone by. With preservation as their goal, the children and the descendants of the Haas and Lilienthal families donated the house to the San Francisco Heritage, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to educating as well as delighting people about the city’s architectural legacy. 

The architectural style of the Haas-Lilienthal House is Queen Anne style, which represents the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), but because of the years in effect this was a revival of that era, which was popular during the last quarter of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th century. The designer of the Haas-Lilienthal House was architect Peter R. Schmidt. 

In 1972 the Haas-Lilienthal House opened its doors as a museum and held tours for the public. This is a one of a kind type of situation because while the tours and education about the history behind the architecture of this era is awe-inspiring, the authentic furniture and artifacts have some interesting tales of their own. They tell a quiet story that is visually taken in and can be felt through your heart, and that’s priceless.

Currently, this venue allows you to go back in time by providing an immersed experience. Learn more about the Haas-Lilienthal House.

 

route 66 adventure travel

Route 66: Part History, Mostly Romance

To hear someone mention Route 66, your mind automatically goes to a place that starts in Chicago, Illinois, then goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before it ends at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica, California. 

Route 66 exemplifies Americana at its best, and an era that was somewhere in time. Route 66 covers a total of 2,448 miles in its entirety. Beginning in 1916, the legislation for a public highway started named the Federal Highway Act. Revisions began in 1921 and continued until 1925, when the government created a plan for a national highway to be constructed.

From 1933 to 1938, thousands of unemployed young males from surrounding states were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of land that needed to be the extended highway. Route 66 helped us mobilize our manpower. 

As time went on, urban culture began to lay down its foundation that would contribute to the mystery and romance of this historical highway. Gas stations, cafes, and small general type stores popped up, providing an attentive audience for the popular highway.

By the end of the war, roadway travel along Route 66 was at its heyday. The roadside architecture represented the region that happened to be in that particular section of the highway. The material used to build the food stands, gas stations and motels included brick, wood, and stucco; many used canopies to cover the seating areas. This all added to the character of the different sections.

As time went on, Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments to extend its usefulness and appeal. Then in 1985, Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System. However, some states have adopted significant sections of the former highway into their state road networks. These sections are called Historic Route 66 and are alternate routes, but maintain much of that allure. 

Today you can still see the cocoons of what’s left of roadside motels, gas stations, and tourist-type attractions. If you truly believe, you might see a 1962 Corvette Convertible drive by and disappear into the romance of Route 66.

To hear someone mention Route 66, your mind automatically goes to a place that starts in Chicago, Illinois, then goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before it ends at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards in Santa Monica, California. 

Route 66 exemplifies Americana at its best, and an era that was somewhere in time. Route 66 covers a total of 2,448 miles in its entirety. Beginning in 1916, the legislation for a public highway started named the Federal Highway Act. Revisions began in 1921 and continued until 1925, when the government created a plan for a national highway to be constructed.

From 1933 to 1938, thousands of unemployed young males from surrounding states were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of land that needed to be the extended highway. Route 66 helped us mobilize our manpower. 

As time went on, urban culture began to lay down its foundation that would contribute to the mystery and romance of this historical highway. Gas stations, cafes, and small general type stores popped up, providing an attentive audience for the popular highway.

By the end of the war, roadway travel along the romantic highway was at its heyday. The roadside architecture represented the region that happened to be in that particular section of the highway. The material used to build the food stands, gas stations and motels included brick, wood, and stucco; many used canopies to cover the seating areas. This all added to the character of the different sections.

As time went on, the iconic roadway underwent many improvements and realignments to extend its usefulness and appeal. Then in 1985, it was officially removed from the United States Highway System. However, some states have adopted significant sections of the former highway into their state road networks. These sections are called Historic Route 66 and are alternate routes, but maintain much of that allure. 

Today you can still see the cocoons of what’s left of roadside motels, gas stations, and tourist-type attractions. If you truly believe, you might see a 1962 Corvette Convertible drive by and disappear into the romance of Route 66.